CHAPTER 3: Insecurities
Luna stared into the mirror, not comprehending the being carefully holding her gaze. Her reflection was so beautiful, so regal, so poised. Yet she felt as if she had the weight of her moon resting on her back. Readjusting to life after her banishment had been a long, tiring process. Yet somehow the servants always managed to make Luna look not only presentable but admirable. Thankfully, however, she was about to get the rest she needed. She sighed as she felt the sun's rays arching up her neck. Daylight. Just as most everypony else was beginning to rise, it was time for her to return to her chambers.
Luna turned from the mirror, her star-filled mane flowing from the motion. She had finally recovered from the Nightmare Moon incident, almost an entire year and a half ago. Thinking back on it, she couldn't even remember why she had transformed into the Dark Mare in the first place. Some childish reason, she was sure. One thousand and one years was a long time. All in all, she was thankful to Celestia, Twilight, and her friends. She had been restored to her former glory and power and had a proper sense of direction. She acted for the greater good of the kingdom. If nopony noticed her, so be it. At least they would profit from her actions, rather than be hurt by them.
She passed a couple of guards in the hallway, who nodded ever so slightly to acknowledge her, while remaining vigilant. As she passed by, Luna had a sudden feeling that something was off.
"Excuse me?" She said.
"Yes your majesty?"
"Is anypony missing?"
"I feel like somepony's supposed to be here. That somepony's missing."
"I'm sorry, but I don't think anypony's out of place, Princess. We had the changing of the guards fifteen minutes ago, but we always keep the same number of guards out here to keep you safe. Besides that, Her Majesty, Princess Celestia, will be taking her place on the throne. The staff are doing their jobs cleaning or cooking, and nopony even called in sick today, Your Majesty."
"Hmm. Quite right. Sorry for disturbing you."
"Not at all, Princess."
Luna continued into her room. The guard was right. She was just tired from the night's shift of ruling the kingdom. Celestia had the harder job, Luna was forced to admit. Luna only had to meet with three ponies the entire night, and one was a casual visit from one of lead researchers who was doing a study on the night sky. Everypony else wanted to meet during the day, with Celestia. Not that Luna really blamed them. Though she had tried her hardest, Luna still wasn't adjusted to modern life quite yet. She still slipped up every now and then, referencing long outdated metaphors and using the 'royal we'. Besides, Celestia had an entire thousand years more of experience ruling the kingdom.
And being loved.
Luna shook her head. This was silly. She was a Princess, an Alicorn, and it was her duty to put on her brave face for the good of the kingdom. Besides, Celestia loved her enough to make up for an entire kingdom's disdain.
A thousand years. A blink of the eye in the perspective of an immortal. But still one thousand years of lost experiences. Of lost time. She had spent it all in a stasis sleep, not quite aware of what was happening around her. When she had found herself on the ground in the Princesses' previous castle, it seemed like waking up from an extra long sleep. In the sleep, there had been a dream. One of anger, hatred, despise, and... fear. She had seen everything that Nightmare Moon had done, everything she had done, but it felt so far away. When Twilight and her friends sapped the younger Alicorn's power and reverted her to her younger self, it felt like she had woken up from, well, a Nightmare.
The deep blue Alicorn sighed as she sunk into her 'bed.' As much as she had tried to modernize, she never adjusted to mattresses. Her bed was in the traditional style, a velvet bag filled with loose pegasus feathers. It morphed as you shifted in it, and was the closest you could get to a cloud on the ground. Just what she needed. Luna closed her eyes, and began to nod off.
A soft knock came from the door, waking her. Celestia peered around the door frame. "Luna? How are you?"
Luna smiled tiredly. Celestia was only a few mortal years the elder, yet she had taken the parental role since their parents' passing. "I am doing well, sister, but shouldn't you be on the throne? The day's begun, and I'm certain ponies will be wanting to visit with you."
Celestia stepped into the room, her presence seemingly filling it with light. "I waited a thousand years to be with you. They can wait a few minutes." She lay down next to Luna's bed, and the two sisters sat in silence for a moment.
"Have you thought about the Winter Moon celebration? The delegates across Equestria want to begin planning now, if you give your blessing." Celestia looked at her sister with concern. "I understand if you'd rather not."
Luna shook her head. "I already disappointed them last year. And after seeing how much fun Nightmare Night was for the citizens of Ponyville, I actually would love to have the solstice celebration held."
Celestia smiled warmly. "I hoped you'd say that." They sat for a while longer, drinking in each other's company and the peace between them.
"Do you regret anything you've done?"
The graceful mare of the night blinked in surprise. "Well, yes. I let myself lose control. As Nightmare Moon I made ridiculous and childish demands, harming my reputation and the trust the kingdom had in me."
"Have you forgiven yourself?"
Now Luna looked at Celestia, holding a steady gaze. Celestia's eyes were full of yearning, almost desperation. "I have moved on," Luna began, "and I know what I did was wrong. Yet I've done all in my power to make it right, and to continue forward in righteousness. I will forever regret my hasty decisions, but they have made me a better mare. If that's what forgiveness is, then yes, I suppose I have."
Celestia looked down for a moment, taking in her younger sister's words. "Thank you, Luna. For everything. I'll let you have some rest now."
Luna grinned. "Don't let anypony give you grief today. Especially that one designer from Manehatten. He came to me claiming that the royals should give him rights to the Canterlot garden park for his display. After I told him that we wouldn't be able to help him, seeing as it has been rented out for the ambassador banquet, he got flustered and said he'd try talking to you instead."
"I'll see what I can do. Thanks for the warning."
"See you tonight, sister."
Celestia walked out of the room, pausing for a brief moment before closing the door softly behind her.